• How To Play A Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression Using Mutual Intervals

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    In today’s lesson I’ll be showing you how to play the major 2-5-1 chord progression.

    The 2-5-1 chord progression remains one of the most commonly used chord progressions especially in gospel and jazz music, and this is because it is a strong root progression.

    It’s important to learn the 2-5-1 chord progression because most of the time, it’s used either to end songs or to connect two or more sections in a song; that’s why I considered it necessary to show you how it can be played using mutual intervals.

    Attention: Don’t worry if you’re not sure what mutual intervals are, just keep reading, I’ll explain.

    A Breakdown Of The Classic 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    There are eight degrees in every key (whether major or minor.) In the key of C major:

    C is the first

    D is the second

    E is the third

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    F is the fourth

    G is the fifth

    A is the sixth

    B is the seventh

    C is the eighth

    The movement of chords from one degree of the scale to another produces a chord progression. For example, the C major triad:

    …(which is the first scale degree chord in the key) can progress to any other scale degree chord, like the D minor triad (which is chord 2):

    …the E minor triad (which is chord 3):

    …and so on.

    The Classic Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression – Explained

    The 2-5-1 chord progression is a chord movement in a given key from chord 2, to chord 5, then to chord 1. In the key of C major:

    …a 2-5-1 chord progression is a chord movement from chord 2 (the D minor triad):

    …to chord 5 (the G dominant seventh chord):

    …to chord 1 (the C major triad):

    “The 2-5-1 Chord Progression Using Seventh Chords…”

    The 2-5-1 chord progression can be enhanced using the following seventh chord:

    The D minor seventh chord:

    The G dominant seventh chord:

    The C major seventh chord:

    In a nutshell, the chord progression is called a major 2-5-1 chord progression because it’s played in the major key.

    Chord Breakdown Into Mutual Intervals

    Before we explore how the major 2-5-1 chord progression can be played using mutual intervals, it’s important for us to explore the concept of mutual intervals.

    In the previous segment, we played the major 2-5-1 chord progression using seventh chords.

    These seventh chords can be broken down into intervals that are complementary to each other – also known as mutual intervals.

    “A Breakdown Of The ‘D Minor Seventh Chord’ Into Mutual Intervals”

    The D minor seventh chord:

    …can be broken down into fifth intervals:

    D-A:

    …a perfect fifth interval.

    F-C:

    …another perfect fifth interval.

    A breakdown of the D minor seventh chord as mutual intervals can help in its rearrangement (aka – “voicing”.) Playing the mutual intervals in two consecutive octaves, produces a voicing of the D minor seventh chord:

    “Hold On! There’s More…”

    The mutual intervals can also be inverted. The interval D-A:

    …can be inverted and played as A-D:

    …while the interval F-C:

    …can be inverted and played as C-F:

    In a nutshell, there are two ways of playing the D minor seventh chord using mutual intervals – using fifth intervals:

    …and using fourth intervals:

    “A Breakdown Of The ‘G Dominant Seventh Chord’ Into Mutual Intervals”

    The G dominant seventh chord:

    …can also be broken down into fifth intervals:

    G-D:

    …a perfect fifth interval.

    B-F:

    …a diminished fifth interval.

    Playing these fifth intervals in two consecutive octaves produces a voicing of the G dominant seventh chord:

    “Let’s Invert The Mutual Intervals…”

    It’s possible to play the G dominant seventh chord by inverting its mutual intervals. The interval G-D:

    …can be inverted and played as D-G:

    …while the interval B-F:

    …can be inverted and played as F-B:

    Altogether, you’ve just learned two ways of playing the G dominant seventh chord – using fifth intervals:

    …and using fourth intervals:

    “A Breakdown Of The ‘C Major Seventh Chord’ Into Mutual Intervals”

    A breakdown of the C major seventh chord:

    …into fifth intervals produces two mutual intervals:

    C-G:

    …a perfect fifth interval.

    E-B:

    …another perfect fifth interval.

    Using the mutual intervals derived, we can rearrange the C major seventh chord by playing the mutual intervals in two consecutive octaves. C-G:

    …in one octave and E-B:

    …in the next octave to produce a voicing of the C major seventh chord:

    “In Addition To That…”

    The mutual intervals can also be inverted. The interval C-G:

    …can be inverted and played as G-C:

    …while the interval E-B:

    …can be inverted and played as B-E:

    In a nutshell, we just learned two creative voicings of the D minor seventh chord using fifth intervals:

    …and fourth intervals:

    Let’s go ahead and apply these voicings in a major 2-5-1 chord progression.

    The Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression Using Mutual Intervals

    In this segment, we’ll be putting the chord breakdown we did together in a major 2-5-1 chord progression.

    In the key of C major:

    …a major 2-5-1 root progression moves from D:

    …to G:

    …then to C:

    Using the voicings we derived in the previous segment, here are two major 2-5-1 chord progressions

    Excerpt #1

    Chord 2:

    …using fifth intervals.

    Chord 5:

    …using fifth intervals.

    Chord 1:

    …using fifth intervals.

    Excerpt #2

    Chord 2:

    …using fifth intervals.

    Chord 5:

    …using fifth intervals.

    Chord 1:

    …using fifth intervals.

    Final Words

    It’s no longer a secret that with just two notes in each hand (playing mutual intervals), one can play the major 2-5-1 chord progression.

    Go ahead and practice the concept learned in all twelve keys and get ready because we’ll go further in our discussion by exploring minor 2-5-1 chord progressions and cyclical chord progressions in subsequent posts.

    See you then!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.


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    { 4 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 jayagopi jagadeesan

    Jermaine, excellent article buddy on mutual intervals. Didn’t know them prior to reading this article. Thanks man for sharing with us.
    cheers,
    jay

    Reply

    2 Peter LaFosse

    Great attical

    Reply

    3 zino

    good

    Reply

    4 zino

    nice

    Reply

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